The government is set to strengthen surveillance on Rohingya camps from security perspectives at night amid allegations of activities of armed groups inside camps along the borders with Myanmar.
The allegations of activities of armed groups inside camps ‘is not unfounded,’ Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam told New Age in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Kalam said this when his attention was drawn about allegations of movement of [Burmese] armed groups inside the camps in Bangladesh. ‘We have already discussed the matter in a meeting with representatives of all government agencies including the border guards, the DGFI [Directorate General of Forces Intelligence] and the NSI [National Security Intelligence].
‘All quarters have agreed to strengthen surveillance for round the clock,’ he said.
Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that criminal gangs and militants ‘are increasing their grip’ on Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh committing killings and abductions with ‘impunity.’
‘Refugees express serious concerns about the personal security, and militants and gangs are intimidating, kidnapping and killing with impunity,’ the ICG said in the report released on April 25.
Murders and other forms of violence ‘are an almost night occurrence,’ the ICG said with urging the Bangladesh authorities to toughen its police presence saying that gangs and extremist groups were now operating openly in the camps.
Stressing the need for early resolve of the protracted Rohingya crisis with keeping hope for the community alive, Kalam said at a workshop that there ‘are risks of radicalisation’ of Rohingya and ‘anything can happen if they lose hope.’
BRAC, a Bangladesh-based international NGO, organised the workshop on Rohingya crisis.
Bhasan Char Island could offer more livelihood options compared to Cox’s Bazar area, Kalam said adding that the people who would be voluntarily willing to move would be transferred to Bhasan Char.
Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said international communities must mount pressure on Myanmar as the Rohingya crisis might not be resolved ‘in a century’ unless the persons involved in atrocities ‘are tried by the ICC’ [International Criminal Court].
Saleemul Huq, director of International Centre for Climate Change Adaptation and Development, said a longer term preparations ‘are required’ as Rohingyas are vulnerable to climate-induced disasters as they have been staying in huge number in a congested place.
Describing the Rohingya camps areas part of ‘sensitive ecosystem,’ IUCN Bangladesh country representative Raquibul Amin alleged that environment related issues got less priority in the government’s agenda.
Stressing the need for mid-term and long-term solutions of the Rohingya crisis, Steven Corliss, UNHCR Bangladesh country representative, said ‘even if repatriation begins tomorrow, transferring over a million people will take several years.’
Suggesting the NGOs to keep their operations ‘limited in humanitarian issues only,’ NGO Affairs Bureau director general KM Abdus Salam said the NGOs should not ‘speak against repatriation’ of Rohingya people.
ActionAid country director Farah Kabir, Richard F Ragan, country director World Food Programme, and BRAC director Sajedul Hasan also spoke at the function.
More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
About 60 Rohingya people have been killed in the camps since the 2017 Rohingya influx, Cox’s Bazar district police.